Microsoft returned to SDCC this year with another Halo game, as they do most every year to show off the latest upcoming Halo release. This year is no different, with Halo Wars 2 taking the spotlight pending its release in early 2017. As common for SDCC panels, the event hosted several voice actors from the game as well as members of the development team. Also common for SDCC panels, there was something special for attendees looking for exclusive details on the game — in this case, a cinematic as well as a story vidoc.
The Halo Wars 2 story vidoc includes the short cinematic teaser, which is several short clips of cinematic story sequences from the game, as well as several developers providing additional details on the title. Most of the background information should be immediately familiar to those following Halo Wars 2. The Spirit of Fire from the original Halo Wars is back, only 28 years later after a ride in cryo-sleep. They have a fateful encounter with the mysterious and oh so clever Atriox and his mercenary force, The Banished, on the Ark from Halo 3. The story takes off from there.
More specific details on Halo Wars 2 should be plentiful. Erika is properly introduced in the vidoc, a logistics AI from an installation on the Ark who has seen her compatriots killed off by Atriox’s group. Old favorite characters Forge and Serena return in the trailer in all of their modern updated visual glory. And of course there’s the closest look at Atriox yet.
It’s an interesting option taken by Microsoft to set the events of Halo Wars 2 on the Ark, tying it back to Halo 3. Halo Wars has always been held as a sort of awkward side-story within the franchise, so a tie-in to the mains series could imply that Microsoft wants the series to be taken a bit more seriously. Not too seriously, of course, since there doesn’t seem to be any particularly meaningful tie-ins to the main series — just a setting from a past game. Now, if it was Master Chief leading the Spirit of Fire’s forces, then we could talk.
Unfortunately very little was revealed regarding actual Halo Wars 2 gameplay, at least that was unveiled beyond the panel itself. For now, fans will have to be happy knowing about the two opposing factions and five different multiplayer modes previously revealed by Microsoft.
Halo Wars 2 is scheduled for release on PC and Xbox One starting February 21, 2017.